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Full text of "Verdict On India"

IN SEARCH  OF  AN  AETIST                                 10T
rbody's cultural heritage. A thousand photographs have given a
foretaste of the Taj ; we have all seen reproductions of the Ajanta
frescoes : the museums of the world are well stocked with Hindu
sculpture, Mogliul miniatures, and the line drawings of the Raj-
puts. To see these things will be a joy, but ifc will be a familiar
joy, like listening to an artist whom one has already heard on th^
gramophone.
The search is for ircsh woods cmd pasture^ new.
n
It is unfortunate that we are obliged c*> begin our quest in
Bombay, because this is a city of such unexampled architectural
depravity that even a cursory glance at it is enough to send the
sensitive visitor home on the next boat.
From the Gateway of India (which, by the way. i^ a sort of
obese edition of the Marble Arch, cunningly placed so as to appear
permanently out of drawing) to the slums round the cotton mills*
4 it is one long agony.
Why did Aldous Huxley describe Bombay as being archi-
tecturally cone of the most appalling cities of either hemisphere ?'
Whv "one of* ? Surely he cannot have encountered anything
worse ? In Bombay, the cult of hideousness rises to the pitch of
fanaticism. One walks the city through a succession of horrors
in concrete and plaster, saying to onself* "This can't go onólook
at thisóno, look at thatóit must stop soon/ But it doesn't.
There is always something worse round the corner.
A walk through Bombay, for any person of even moderate
bensibility, is a sort of aesthetic blitz. The architecture is not
merely hideous, it is fiercely aggressive; the public buildings are
like the evil creatures of a nightmare, crouching to spring. They
are silhouetted against a background of shoddy tenements, that
have sprung up in a rash all along the sea-shore,
This revolting city, in. which there is hardly a building which
could be charitably described as third-rate, is a disgrace to the
^British Empire. It puts us on a level with the Huns. And the
strange thing about it is that nobody, apart from Mr, Huxlsy,
appears to mind it in the least. For instance, in the centre of the